If you surf away from YouTube and click off of the male-18-34-year-old demo video hubs for just a second, you can find people who use online multimedia for genuinely edifying, life-affirming ends. No joke.
One of the smartest blends of professional and amateur user-gen media I have seen lately comes from Meredith's MyFirstBaby.com. The 36-Webisode series is brilliantly targeted at one of the most frightening moments in most adults' lives -- bringing their first children into the world. Done in partnership with baby products maker Graco, the series uses host Jill Cordes as the anchor for user-submitted clips that address everything from baby naming to pregnancy fashion to first solid foods to going back to work. Cordes shares her own home videos of daughter and hubby struggling through the first days as lead in to a montage of user-submitted work. The upcoming topics are shown to community members so they can send in videos of whatever stage they are in at the moment.
The full effect of the videos is genuinely communal. Rather than relying on cool professional video that provides perfect instructions by perfect people who get perfect results, the people in these videos are diverse and genuine, but the material is nicely sculpted into a story arc that instructs at the same time it reassures.
Meredith is leveraging the video im multiple ways. In addition to the site the clips will be syndicated out to parenting sites around the Web and also appear on Meredith's on-air syndicated show Better as well as their on-demand Parents TV. demand. To its credit, full sponsor Graco plays a light hand here. No interruptive pre-rolls or mid-rolls. Their logo pops up as part of the text layovers and around the site. But apart form an occasional product placement (the car seat installation) they just lean back and let the halo effect take its course.
Altogether My First Baby is a good example of thoughtfully integrating old media polish with the user-centricity of new media.
And best to support the effort now because when all of these babies hit their teen years they will be planting themselves at Youtube, Break.com, Metacafe and FunnyorDie to tune in to their own helping of online rude whoopass. If their mothers only knew.